On Saturday, I photographed Anjelica and Steve’s wedding, and it was everything that is right with the world. I’m not even exaggerating. Without getting too political, I’ve been feeling… down about the state of the world lately, and this love story made me feel like we’re all gonna be okay.
I’ve written about this before, but there is this amazing thing that happens at some weddings. I call it the “Rainbow Wedding Family” phenomena. The concept is this: sometimes, at some weddings, when the couple has truly great friends and family, this amazing community comes together just for their wedding. It’s a group of multigenerational people from all over the country- sometimes all over the world- that would never assemble in exactly this way for any other reason. There’s a kind of alchemy as people come together, and it’s magical.
That absolutely happened on Saturday night. “Diverse” does not even begin to describe this couple’s group of family and friends. Every imaginable kind of diversity was represented, across all lines. Everyone brought the best of their culture, from drumming to henna to salsa dancing, to celebrate with this couple. It was SO fun. Who wouldn’t want this? Who wouldn’t want to mambo with the bride’s mom? Who wouldn’t want their feet decorated by a neighbor who wants your feet to be adorned with the loveliest henna before you take even a step down the aisle? Who wouldn’t want to jam with the father of the groom, or even the groom himself, as he drums a message of love for his bride as she dances up the aisle? Like I said, I don’t want to get too political, but for real, anyone who doesn’t think enjoying the best of things that diversity brings to our melting pot SERIOUSLY needs to get themselves invited to more weddings in the Bronx. THIS is where the magic is happening, and it’s the best.
This beaded cape on the back of Anjelica’s dress was AMAZING.
The aforementioned henna…
Of course, it’s a reflection of the bride and groom and the love they pour into the world. All day long, Anjelica careened from happy tears to laughter and back. This bride and groom make each other laugh; they are going to be the happiest 90-year-olds ever, just cracking each other up all day.
This is the groom practicing his “stunned and happy at the first look” expression with a groomsman as they put on the boutonnieres. You can see why Anjelica laughs so much, and does she ever.
The bride was cracking up as she approached the groom, and then she turned and mugged for me before announcing, “I’m here!”
He was like, “I heard you laughing 100 yards away.”
Then it was time to sign the marriage license and take posed photos!
I love the papel picado they incorporated into their decor, so I tried to incorporate it into photos.
This custom etched mirror welcomed guests to the ceremony area, and before you knew it, the groom was on his way own the aisle with his parents.
How sweet is Steve hugging his dad?!?!
The groom played the drums for the processional, and as the wedding party got to the front, they picked up percussion instruments and played along. The bride and her parents danced down the aisle to meet them, and all of the guests clapped along until the rhythm blurred into a huge round of applause.
This is when the happy tears started all around.
Happy tears here…
Happy tears there…
Happy tears everywhere! (LOVE IT when this happens!)
They gave their moms and the bride’s grandparents long-stemmed roses as part of the ceremony.
Then it was back up the aisle through tossed dried lavender and off to a quiet room….
…where the happy tears continued from the bride’s siblings…
and the newlyweds!
This was so incredibly sweet, and then I left them to have a few moments to soak in the joy of being married.
Okay. So, the bride’s cousin brought these hilarious fake, tiny baby hands? Cocktail hour was filled with laughter anyway, because that’s just Anjelica, honestly- she has an contagious laugh- but the fake, tiny baby hands were a hit.
Everyone joined in after a few verses of the first dance song, including some long-distance guests on FaceTime. I love that technology makes that possible now.
The coolest thing happened during the mother-son dance. Here’s the thing. The parent dances… I think that’s something moms and dads look forward to when they think about their children getting married someday. I already know I want to dance with Ryan to Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” someday, because that has been the soundtrack of the past two years for us. (He’s only two, and I know I want that!)
So, for the mother of the groom to reach out to the bride and pull her up into their dance? That was such an act of generosity. *I* started getting happy-teary at this point behind the camera, to be honest.
And then it happened again! Anjelica and her dad pulled her mom into *their* dance. I’m telling you; this couple and their families are so great.
More happy tears!
After some loving toasts, the magical rainbow wedding family alchemy I described in the beginning was in full effect.
The ice cream!
The dance floor that just didn’t quit!
A surprise birthday cake for a bridesmaid!
And finally, Stew Leonard’s popcorn on the way out.
It was a wonderful night for a wonderful couple. Anjelica and Steve, I hope you still love each other, laughing and crying happy tears, and eating hamburgers and making out when you’re old and grey. Thanks for letting me document all the moments and people that made your day as special as it was.
Filled Under : Wedding
This wedding. This wedding, you guys. Where do I start with Glen and Liz? Well, they were set up by a friend who, and I quote the bride verbatim here, “thought we were the same kind of socially awkward.” She resisted at first. She didn’t want to be set up. But then Liz said something while she was getting her makeup done that really struck a chord with me, because it’s true in my life, too. She said something like, “The things I’ve been most resistant to in my life- like doing theater, choosing where I went to college, going on a blind date with Glen- they all turned out to be the best things for me.” Resistance, and then flow.
I thought that was really profound, and it resonated with me, as I think it would resonate with anyone who, like me, is headstrong, and who maybe, just maybe, wasn’t sure where he or she belonged at first. I’ve always been told that I’m just a little too much- I’m a little too loud, a little too big. I talk too much, and I talk too fast. It took me a while to find my tribe, but when I finally found my husband (who, like the bride and groom, introduced me to his love of gaming and D&D and cosplay and all things geeky), he sent me a bouquet on my wedding day with this Dr. Seuss quote: “We are all a little weird, and life’s a little weird, and we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
The bride and groom chose a reading from Dr. Seuss for their ceremony, and I think they’ll like this quote, too, because they have fallen in mutual weirdness and it IS love. It just so happens that their wedding vows included the bride telling the groom, “I will tell you when you are talking too loud,” as he swore, “I will tell you when you are talking too fast.” Uh huh. I see you guys. I get you. I’m right there with you. I appreciate your love of storytelling, and this is my interpretation of your greatest love story yet, the story of your wedding day.
I keep coming back to what Liz said about resistance, and then flow. We think we know what’s best for us, but then it’s the thing we resisted most that takes us the farthest in life, and that really formed the family and community around Liz and Glen that made their wedding day so beautiful. The college you didn’t want to visit that becomes your second home where you meet your soul sister/sorority sister/maid of honor. That time you furrowed your brow at your roommate when he instructed you to let “a cute pink-haired girl” (a.k.a. a random person from Reddit that he gave an extra concert ticket to) into the apartment who then becomes your bridesmaid who lovingly spent weeks crafting your custom centerpieces and wedding flowers even in the excitement and Pinterest-flurry of her own engagement. These lovely friends, and a few more, started out getting ready at the salon with Liz.
Meanwhile, the groom was at an old-timey barbershop getting straight-razored shaves (and an impressive waxed mustache for the officiant, all to complete his perfect cosplay of Rucks from the video game Bastion. You’ll see more of that soon).
The groomsmen (and a bridesman) wore 20-sided dice cufflinks in keeping with the gaming theme, which was fully realized all throughout the wedding.
I am not 100% sure what’s happening here since this photo was one that Tom, my second, shot of the groom getting ready, but I believe Glen and his best man are fencing with combs, which is HILARIOUS.
We headed over to the venue to get the bride into her dress (and her Something Blue sparkly Converse sneakers!) and then she was ready to go see the groom.
A few last-minute details, and it was time for the best part of the day. I love “first looks” when couples see each other for the first time on the wedding day. Everything gets so much easier when you finally get to be with your beloved.
Glen’s reaction was priceless.
We had absolutely perfect light for formal pictures. Thank you, weather gods.
I’m an absolute sucker for endearing moments between a groom and his mom….
….and even more so when they’re between a bride and her grandfather.
“Oh,” Glen said. “We forgot to tell you after the engagement session. More silly poses please.”
You got it! Silly poses for the win!
Note the Super Mario Brothers Fire and Ice flowers in the ladies’ bouquets…
A near-dropping moment (NEAR dropping, not actual dropping) started to get the bride nervous about her fate during the horah later…
I’ll be honest; the photo session portion of the day, with all the people who need to be there in various configurations (when there is so much else going on and details to check on) can sometimes be the most hectic part of the day. For that reason, I like to start with the largest number of people and dismiss down until I end with just the bride and groom.
99% of the time, the romantic poses give the couple a chance to connect and calm each other before the ceremony. Liz just melted into Glen’s arms. Yes! My secret master plan is unfolding exactly as foreseen.
So, Glen and Liz are theater people. They love, among other musicals, Johnathan Larson’s “Rent.” There is a song in this musical called, “I’ll Cover You.” The lyrics go, “Live in my house/ I’ll be your shelter/ Just pay me back/ With one thousand kisses.” Some time last summer, Glen started tallying the number of times he kissed his bride-to-be with the goal of the 1000th kiss being the one when they said “I do.” As we finished all the smooching poses, Glen knew he wouldn’t be kissing Liz again until the end of the ceremony, so he planted the 997th, 998th and 999th kisses on her hand and wrist before we finished taking photos. This is so sweet. Liz, you lucky, lucky girl.
So the dress code for the wedding was “‘Cosplay’ (short for “costume play”) optional.” Cosplay is what you see people doing when they go to ComicCon or Star Trek conventions, and it’s a HUGE trend that’s become very popular in recent years. People dress up in their own interpretation of characters from movies, TV shows, video games, comic books and pretty much any other form of pop culture you can think of. So, yes, that wedding guest is green. It’s not your monitor.
Cosplay communities tend to be very accepting, very supportive, and very creative. That’s exactly the vibe that the bride and groom wanted for their ceremony. They wanted to be openly, unapologetically themselves- in all their gamer-geek glory- as they pledged their love to each other. The guests showing their support by dressing up accentuated that beautifully.
After a traditional processional, the fun really began. I’ve documented more than 100 weddings at this point, and I’ve never seen a ceremony quite like this one. The bride and groom fell in love playing table-top, role-playing games. The most famous one is Dungeons and Dragons. Essentially, everyone in the wedding party took on the role of a different character in a imaginary, D&D style adventure through the vows and ring exchange, complete with rolling of dice, the officiant serving as dungeon master, or lead storyteller. It was delightful, so completely and wonderfully fitting for this couple at this time in their lives.
This is, in fact, their 1000th kiss since Glen started counting last summer.
Their smiles as they made their way back down the aisle are everything.
One guest brought his A-game to the details of his Starlord costume, complete with scale-accurate, dancing baby Groot.
Cocktail hour is the BEST, especially when all the posed photos have already have been taken, and the signature cocktail is a mana potion, a.k.a. “a mysterious elixir of magical energy.” That’s a League of Legends reference, for those of you playing along at home.
The newlyweds bounded into their reception and went right into their first dance to “Anything For You” by Ludo. It was whimsical and upbeat and gentle and funny.
The bride danced with her dad to the “Jurassic Park” theme, which is an inside joke, I think, but who doesn’t love some orchestral John Williams music?
Then, it was time for the groom’s surprise, which was one of the most romantic moments of the entire day.
He arranged an acapella piece, with accompaniment from his sister and members of the wedding party, and sang to his bride.
This is the look of a woman, brimming with happy tears, at the moment she feels most loved, deeply moved, and completely and totally cherished. Glen? Nailed it.
Laughter through tears flowed through the rest of the toasts. This is the groom laughing at a Star Trek joke in the best man’s speech, followed by loving words from the maid of honor and the father of the bride.
After dinner, everyone hit the dance floor, visited the photo booth or played board games. Like I said, the gaming theme was fully realized, right up through special tables featuring “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots” and “Hungry, Hungry Hippos,” among others.
I would like to point out that no one fell during the horah. Hooray!
The cake display was a lovingly hand-crafted tier of cupcakes, LED lights, and custom fondant Weighted Companion Cubes (From the video game Portal). I know this was made by either a cousin or a friend, I didn’t quite catch which, but woman, you are amazing! Making a wedding cake of any kind is a huge undertaking. The fact that this one involved the need to be near an electrical outlet is just, pardon the pun, icing on the cake. Well done, cousin-friend-person.
What do the horah, the Cha Cha Slide, the Twist, the Gangham Style dance and choreography from Footloose have in common? They were all danced with gleeful abandon at this wedding.
Congratulations, you two. Be well. Love each other well, and keep falling in mutual weirdness more and more every year for the rest of your lives. Thank you for letting us tell your love story. Have the best honeymoon, and enjoy some Doug’s Fish Fry for me!
Filled Under : Wedding